What are the Covid rules in the four nations of the UK?

·5-min read
Two men sit socially distanced outside a pub in the centre of Cardiff (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)
Two men sit socially distanced outside a pub in the centre of Cardiff (Ben Birchall/PA) (PA Wire)

Wales has said coronavirus restrictions introduced after Christmas will remain in place as cases of Omicron soar.

But how do the current rules compare across the four nations of the UK?

– Wales

The Welsh Government has announced that the country is staying at Alert Level 2 for at least another week following the latest regulations review.

The measures, imposed from Boxing Day, mean nightclubs are closed and there is a requirement to work from home wherever possible.

Groups of no more than six people are allowed to meet in pubs, cinemas and restaurants.

Licensed premises can offer table service only, face masks will have to be worn and contact tracing details collected, and two-metre social distancing rules are in place.

A maximum of 30 people can attend indoor events and a maximum of 50 people are allowed at outdoor events.

People attending weddings or civil partnership receptions or wakes are also being told to take a lateral flow test before attending.

A package of seven NHS Test and Trace Covid-19 self-testing kits (Zoe Linkson/PA) (PA Archive)
A package of seven NHS Test and Trace Covid-19 self-testing kits (Zoe Linkson/PA) (PA Archive)

However, Wales has reduced the mandatory isolation period for people who test positive with Covid-19 from 10 days to seven, subject to two negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven.

And from Thursday, confirmatory PCR tests for asymptomatic people who test positive on a lateral flow device are no longer needed.

In terms of travel restrictions, the requirement for the fully vaccinated and under 18s to take a pre-departure test and a day two PCR test when arriving in the UK will be removed over the next few days.

People will instead need to take a lateral flow test (LFD) on day two and, if positive, a follow-up PCR test to enable genomic sequencing to be carried out.

There will also be no need to self-isolate until a negative test has been received.

– England

Like Wales, confirmatory PCR tests for asymptomatic people who test positive using a lateral flow device have been scrapped – though the change does not come in until January 11.

Pre-departure Covid tests for travellers arriving in England are also being scrapped, as is the requirement for travellers to self-isolate on arrival until they receive a negative PCR test.

Instead, from 4am on Friday the rules will revert to the system in place in October, with travellers required to take a lateral flow test no later than the end of day two after their arrival.

Meanwhile, England has recently announced tougher coronavirus measures for schools, with a requirement for secondary pupils to wear masks in classrooms.

Face coverings are also compulsory in most indoor public settings, as well as on public transport, and people have been told to work from home if they can.

Covid passes are still required for entry into nightclubs and other venues, a rule which has been in place since December 15.

Passengers wearing masks travelling via Waterloo station in London (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Passengers wearing masks travelling via Waterloo station in London (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

If a person in England has tested positive or has symptoms, they can stop self-isolating after seven days instead of 10 if they receive two negative lateral flow test results on days six and seven.

Those who are unvaccinated close contacts of positive cases must still isolate for 10 days.

– Northern Ireland

The self-isolation period for confirmed Covid-19 cases was last week reduced in Northern Ireland from 10 days to seven in line with England.

The rule is subject to negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven.

Nightclubs are closed and dancing has been prohibited in hospitality venues.

Weddings are not affected (Anthony Devlin/PA) (PA Archive)
Weddings are not affected (Anthony Devlin/PA) (PA Archive)

But the rule does not apply to weddings.

People must remain seated for table service while table numbers are limited to six.

Ministers have also agreed that sporting events can continue with no limits on capacity, while the work-from-home message is being bolstered and legislation introduced to require social distancing in offices and similar workplaces.

The guidance is for mixing in a domestic setting to be limited to three households.

Northern Ireland also dropped the requirement for people who test positive on a lateral flow device to take a confirmatory PCR test, with the change coming in immediately after the announcement on Wednesday.

– Scotland

The same changes to testing for asymptomatic people were implemented in Scotland from Thursday.

On the same day, Scotland announced pre-departure testing for travellers entering the country would be scrapped.

The change will take effect from Friday at 4am, while those coming into the country will also be able to use a lateral flow test instead of a PCR as their post-arrival test, taken on or before the second day of their stay, from Sunday at 4am.

The requirement to self-isolate until a negative PCR is returned will also come to an end.

Other restrictions in the country include events having one-metre social distancing and being limited to 100 people standing indoors, 200 people sitting indoors and 500 people outdoors.

One-metre physical distancing is in place in all indoor hospitality and leisure settings.

Table service is also required where alcohol is being served.

Homeworking is expected under current rules (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)
Homeworking is expected under current rules (Joe Giddens/PA) (PA Wire)

Since December 14, people have been asked to reduce their social contacts as much as possible by meeting in groups of no more than three households.

Allowing staff to work from home where possible has become a legal duty on employers.

Care home visits have also been limited to two households.

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